Ice breakers may seem silly to some, but they serve a huge purpose when it comes to presenting to a group. They can help to relax participants and make them more receptive to listening and, more importantly, participating.

An ice breaker can create a team atmosphere, motivating participants to work with others in a cooperative manner. They can take any number of forms, but the most effective promote interaction, sharing and team building.

So what makes a good ice breaker? First and foremost, it must employ content appropriate to the group as well as be appropriately timed. It should occur at the beginning of a meeting or speech to – hence the name – break the ice, and at times throughout the program when interest may be waning. It can be difficult to learn when to insert them, but using your instincts and practicing are the best instructions.

It also is important that ice breakers not be too long else they can sabotage the more serious work to come at the meeting. Try to remember what the phase means – breaking the ice. Use them to get people engaged, then move on to the real reason everyone is in the room.

Here are some other valuable tips:

  • Have a clear purpose for the ice breaker.
    What are you hoping to accomplish? Will playing a game help any more than telling a story? Will the playfulness take away from the serious content to follow?
  • Keep it simple.
    You have to explain the ice breaker with ease, and it needs to be understood with equal ease.
  • Make it light and humorous.
    Laughter always sets a good tone, but be careful it isn’t offensive to anyone.
  • Use props.
    Sometimes you can get a good idea for an ice breaker from a simple object.
  • Practice, practice, practice.
    If you aren’t comfortable with the ice breaker, your audience won’t be either.

Do you recall any ice breakers that broke the tension and led to a successful meeting? Share them in the comments below, or tweet them at #MCGblog.

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